Toolkit on Effective Mentoring for Youth
Facing Barriers to Success

Best practices and resources to build, strengthen, evaluate and sustain effective mentoring programs for youth considered at high-risk of under education, unemployment, homelessness, criminalization, and other negative outcomes.

Recruiting Mentors

“[A mentor] should be a person that doesn’t see you in that mould [of being high-risk], someone who doesn’t have, like, a preconceived idea of what you should be or… based on where you’re from, like they don’t have, ‘you’re supposed to be this certain way’, they’re more open to like, where you go, your ideas, your opinions, your goals.” (Youth Arts Action Group Youth Consultation)


Recruit appropriate mentors by realistically describing the program’s aims and expected outcomes.1


  • Engage in recruitment strategies that realistically portray the benefits, practices, supports, and challenges of mentoring in the program.
  • Use recruitment strategies that build positive attitudes and emotions about mentoring.
  • Recruit mentors whose skills, motivations, and backgrounds best match the goals and structure of the program.
  • Encourage mentors to assist with recruitment efforts by providing them with resources to ask individuals they know, who meet the eligibility criteria of the program, to be a mentor.
  • Encourage and train mentees to identify and recruit appropriate mentors for themselves, when possible/ relevant.1

Other Findings

Create a recruitment plan to help guide and track how you will promote the program to potential volunteer mentors.

Have a publicly available written statement outlining eligibility requirements for mentors. The eligibility criteria are the minimum and preferred criteria necessary for a person to become a mentor and may include:

  • Desired skills, characteristics and attributes.
  • Life experience.
  • Previous mentoring experience. Past mentoring experience acts as a foundation to work with youth facing barriers to success.7

Youth initiated mentoring can empower youth to identify and engage potential mentors from the caring adults that are already in their lives (ex. a staff member, family friend, coach).6 This could assist mentoring programs that may have difficulties in recruiting sufficient mentors for youth.4 Mentoring programs may employ a youth initiated mentoring approach in which youth are trained to select a mentor from their existing social network to become their formal mentor. The program would then provide screening, training, monitoring, and support.5 Relationships with natural mentors may be less pressured and have less difficulty building trust.3

Use multiple strategies to recruit mentors (e.g., direct ask, social media, traditional methods of mass communication, presentations, referrals, word of mouth) on an ongoing basis. Word-of-mouth recruitment has been found to be very effective for some programs; volunteerism increases when people are asked to volunteer by someone they know (ex: friend, colleague, relative).

It is important for mentoring programs to realistically describe the requirements, rewards, and challenges of mentoring during recruitment. Provide a job description, information on time commitment & consistency, desired/required personality characteristics, characteristics of target mentees, precise schedule, and type of activities. A mentor’s unfulfilled expectations can contribute to an earlier-than-anticipated end to the mentoring relationship.

Communicate to mentors how mentoring and volunteering can benefit them (not just the mentee).1. 2

Key Tools & Resources

Mentoring Fact Sheet: Volunteer Motivation and Mentor Recruitment:

Webinar: Innovative recruitment: Creative strategies for finding long-term mentors:

Putting the ‘men’ back in mentoring: A look at one of the mentoring movement’s toughest challenges (recruiting male mentors):

Effective Mentor Recruitment:

Men in Mentoring Toolkit:

Guide to Recruiting Black Men as Mentors for Black Boys:

Recruiting Mentors: A Guide to Finding Volunteers to Work with Youth:

Mentor Recruitment Postcard:

Marketing for the Recruitment of Mentors:

Top 10 Recruitment Tips:

Tips to Recruit and Retain Immigrant and Refugee Volunteers:

#8000 Mentors Materials
#mentoringmoments Video

Alberta Mentoring Partnership Promotional/ Recruitment Material

About Alberta Mentoring Partnership Handout

  1. MENTOR. (2015). Elements of effective practice for mentoring, 4th ed. Retrieved from
  2. Ballasy, L., Fullop, M. & Garringer, M. (2008). Generic mentoring program policy & procedure manual. Portland, OR: The Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence & The National Mentoring Center at Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. 
  3. Greeson, J.K.P. & Bowen, N.K. (2008). “She holds my hand” The experiences of foster youth with their natural mentors. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 1178-1188.
  4. Hirsch, BJ, Mickus, M., & Boerger, R. (2002). Ties to influential adults among black and white adolescents: culture, social class, and family networks. Am J Community Psychol; 30(2): 289-303.
  5. Schwartz, S. (2014, May 13). How formal mentoring programs can facilitate natural mentoring relationships. The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring.
  6. Van Patten, D. (n.d.). Youth Initiated Mentoring – Dare Mighty Things. 
  7. Vandenberghe, C. (2014). Mentoring Youth in Care. Calgary, AB: Child, Family and Community Research for the Child and Youth in Care and Mentoring Subcommittee of the Alberta Mentoring Partnership; taken from: content/uploads/2014/09/Mentoring-Youth-in-Care.pdf
Funding provided by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services